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The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Democratic Debate / Sanders Campaign / Gun Debate / U.S.-South Korea Relations

Participants:
John McLaughlin, Host
Pat Buchanan, Author & Columnist
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
Tom Rogan, National Review/Daily Telegraph

Taped: Friday, October 16, 2015
Broadcast: Weekend of October 16-18, 2015

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ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Issue One: Democrats Debate Part 1.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): On Tuesday, five Democratic presidential aspirants met in Las Vegas Nevada, for the first of six Democratic presidential debate.

Moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the debate included former senator and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, former senator and Rhode Island governor, Lincoln Chafee, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former senator from Virginia, Jim Webb.

The proceedings began with a sharp question to Hillary Clinton.

ANDERSON COOPER, DEBATE MODERATOR: You were against same-sex marriage. Now you're for it. You defended President Obama's immigration policies. Now you say they're too harsh. You supported his trade deal dozen of times. You even called it the "gold standard". Now, suddenly, last week, you're against it.

Will you say anything to get elected?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, actually, I have been very consistent over the course of my entire life, I have always fought for the same values and principles, but, like most human beings -- including those of us who run for office -- I do absorb new information. I do look at what's happening in the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Our question, Pat: Is Hillary Clinton a flip-flopper?

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: Well, Hillary Clinton’s views have changed gradually, as a lot of people’s do, John.

But here’s the key thing about this debate. Last week, I said, Hillary basically was running against an image of Hillary that was developing, that she had lost it, that she was getting shrill, that she was caught on this whole thing over the emails.

She came through and command of that demand and command of her materials. She had some wit. She moved to Bernie Sanders’ left on couple of key issues, XL and guns. And I think she won the debate, and I think she also may have prevented from coming into the race, the fellow you said would be already in is Joe Biden, because it looks like Hillary is going to win this nomination -- her major opponent is the FBI.

(LAUGHTER)

TOM ROGAN, THE GUARDIAN: Right, right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, if Pat can breeze by Hillary’s flip-flopping, so I can. I would just to the record, the FBI is not targeting Hillary Clinton. They’re looking at the security system of the State Department. And so, for those who are hanging out there, expecting a terrible report and Hillary to be indicted, I would say, go find something else to do.

She did a great job the other night. You’re right, she quieted a lot of the doubts within the party. What I think is amazing is that Joe Biden’s very close former chief of staff Ted Kaufman, you know, sent out a letter saying, hey, vice president still hasn’t made up his mind, the debate doesn’t have anything to do with it. I mean, it’s getting to be kind of a caricature, his waiting to decide.

So, whether he gets in or not, Hillary Clinton did a fine job the other night, and so did Bernie Sanders. They make a great tag team and the way the Democrats treated each other respectfully was so different from the Republicans, that I think the American voters are going to look at this and think that the Democrats can deliver a real discussion about serious issues.

MCLAUGHLIN: Tom?

ROGAN: Yes. I think, you know, in the U.S. presidential system, they have two elections, right? You have the primaries, where Hillary Clinton obviously did a very, very impressive job. I think Pat is right. I tend to think that in contrast to Eleanor, that they maybe more to that FBI story. There may not be, we will see.

But unless there -- if there is, then she has a problem. If there isn’t, she is the nominee. She’s secured herself. You saw the energy of the Democratic primary voters assembled, there, build, and her energy feed off that as it went on. So, it was a huge moment for her campaign.

But again, when it gets to the general election, the flip-flopping will become an issue because it allows for very easy ads, very easy criticisms on the part of the Republican candidate.

MCLAUGHLIN: There’s no question but that Joe Biden is much more inclined to run, after having seen this.

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I’ll ask question it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Because the field is weak, and who do we have there? Biden will have very little direct competition, other than Hillary.

CLIFT: That’s like --

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: I will question it.

CLIFT: -- did you have a nice evening at the play, President Lincoln?

PAGE: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: He can siphon off Sanders’ support with his --

PAGE: John, don’t --

MCLAUGHLIN: -- supporters and dominate the pack.

PAGE: Well, John --

MCLAUGHLIN: Is Hillary an electable issue – electable -- can you argue it?

PAGE: What you’re saying would have sounded great last week. But now, Hillary has changed the expectations now. That’s what’s so important with our debate.

And thank you. Congratulations, Tom, on figuring out our electoral system. Hope you can explain cricket to me after the show, because they’re both about as arcane. But they’re also inevitable.

Hillary Clinton came in this debate with a lot of people questioning her abilities as a candidate. Questioning her likability, et cetera. I thought, like Pat said, she just way turned that around.

Now, in fact, Joe Biden would start off in the hole of he enters the race, because Hillary’s got momentum now. And obviously, that would just stop --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: Big mo, right?

PAGE: Big mo – if Biden stepped in now, that would just step all of Hillary supporters would be very angry at Biden.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Clarence is right. Clarence is dead. What Hillary did there --

PAGE: Say it more often, Pat.

BUCHANAN: Well, it’s such a rarity --

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: But what she did is remove the argument for Biden to get in and make sure the Democrats have a viable candidate, because Hillary was looking less and less viable. She removed that argument.

What argument is left for Joe Biden getting in, John? As you said --

ROGAN: It’s emails.

BUCHANAN: -- he would two weeks ago.

ROGAN: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary’s ratings on untrustworthiness or trustworthiness and telling the truth are politically deadly in the general election.

BUCHANAN: Undeniably. They are very tough.

MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Democrats love her, but they make up only 30 percent of the electorate. The other 70 percent are deeply skeptical about Hillary’s ability to tell the truth.

BUCHANAN: But look how --

MCLAUGHLIN: Was that altered by the debate?

BUCHANAN: Yes.

CLIFT: I think she came across as someone who can make direct eye contact, who can explain her positions. She came across as very credible. And to borrow a line from 2008, she’s likable enough, but she is so competent and so intelligent that that -- I think that really and strong, and I think people really are going to look at strength in the general election. And she’s going to be running against someone else. She’s not going to be running against perfection.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

CLIFT: And I don’t think there’s anyone in the Republican field, and they’re in chaos right now –

BUCHANAN: They’re not in chaos, Eleanor.

CLIFT: -- who has any better numbers than she has when it comes to trustability.

ROGAN: I think Eleanor hit something on the head there, in the sense that, as much as Hillary Clinton will have an issue with the sort of easy charisma that perhaps that a Republican candidate will, when she gets up, one of her strengths will be, as you saw in that debate, the eye contact, the ferocity, because that will allow voters to say, actually, Hillary Clinton is tough, and those independents may gravitate to her.

Now, we’ll see but that --

PAGE: Yes, well, one of the things she’s got to watch out for, though, is she made it look easy in this debate. And even Bernie Sanders coming to her side on the emails issue. She isn’t going to get that debating with the Republicans. She’s going to have to be ready of offensive attack.

MCLAUGHLIN: She was perfect in the debate. Perfect.

BUCHANAN: Well, you know, and, John --

MCLAUGHLIN: A perfect score because she was relaxed, she enjoyed it. She particularly enjoyed Sanders. She had that great exchange with Sanders.

PAGE: Yes, but she got away with a couple of things, though.

BUCHANAN: That Sanders thing was brilliant on Sanders part. But what she said was, look, I’m not going to get in to attacking Hillary Clinton on this ridiculous damned email thing. He moves himself outside it and he says to himself, praying maybe the FBI does it --

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: That’s not me and I won’t be blamed. I won’t have, you know, my fingerprints on the revolver.

CLIFT: I doubt Bernie Sanders is counting on the FBI to clear to the White House.

BUCHANAN: He better count on it because he doesn’t have any other options.

CLIFT: That was a gesture of magnanimity. And it fits right in to --

BUCHANAN: Calculated magnanimity.

CLIFT: Well, so what? I don’t care that it was calculated or not. The American people loved it. He raised $2 million in the 24 hours after that. You know, the American public doesn’t think that’s a huge issue. Maybe some of your pals do. But that’s about it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary Clinton, Madam Clinton has had problems in the past with what, with appearing to be untrustworthy.

BUCHANAN: Well, she’s still got very bad ratings on untrustworthy.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: Don’t you think that this debate --

BUCHANAN: Look, she helped herself a bit. I agree with Tom.

MCLAUGHLIN: -- wiped it out? Wiped it out?

BUCHANAN: No, it didn’t wipe it. She comes off as tough, and confident and knowing what she’s doing, a lot of things that people want in a president and a lot folks saying, I don’t think I can trust the Clintons, but they’re going to vote for her.

CLIFT: Well, the next hurdle is next week, the Benghazi committee. She won her wish to testify in public. So, the American people can tune into that. The Benghazi committee has really been discredited. So, I think -- I’m assuming she’s going to get through that just fine as well.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do you know that Hillary was the centrist Democrat back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, almost identical to Jim Webb today? You know who Jim Webb was.

CLIFT: I know who Jim Webb is. I mean, he was on the stage the other night.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, I mean, he was in the debate and how he portrayed himself and how he is. Now, she’s trying to be as progressive as Bernie Sanders, who is an avowed socialist.

CLIFT: But she answered that question. She said, "I am a progressive. I don’t take a backseat to anyone. I’m a progressive who likes to get things done."

Sure, she’s associated with her husband and the Democratic Party moving to the center and what we call Clintonism. And now, on a couple of issues, she’s moved away from that, just as the country has, or at least as the Democratic Party has. And I think her changes in views are all pretty justifiable, even if you say politics is the only justification.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: John, they are problematic for the general election. She came out --

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Well, take gun control. She came out all out, tough, anti-NRA. When you get into areas of Michigan and Pennsylvania and Ohio, a lot of folks up there that are Democrats, they tend to care about this issue very much. It helps here. She really took care of Bernie on it.

But it’s going to be a problem for her in the fall, if she’s the nominee.

CLIFT: Except the gun issue has shifted.

PAGE: But it hasn’t been a big problem for Democrats since Al Gore back in 2000, and they’ve moderated their positions so that they don’t appear to be waging a war against guns. Nevertheless, it hurt Obama, still won. It hurt Hillary Clinton now, she can still win in Michigan, Ohio, those Rust Belt states.

MCLAUGHLIN: Did I say earlier that only 30 percent of voters identify themselves Democrats, the rest are independents or Republicans? Did I say that earlier?

PAGE: I thought it was interesting that Hillary didn’t want to be called a moderate. She dodged that word and went for progressive.

ROGAN: That is going to become an issue in the general election campaign – on guns and --

PAGE: Well, it says something about where the electorate is now, because, you’re right. She and Bill Clinton did run as moderates.

BUCHANAN: It tells you where the Democratic electorate is. Yes, that’s right. She’s in a debate with Democrats. You get in a general election and it’s not so far over there, Clarence.

PAGE: Both are polarized right now, is what it is. I mean, Democrats want to vote for somebody who’s a real Democrat, just like Republicans --

BUCHANAN: Eleanor made a statement that Republicans are in chaos. No, they’re not, Eleanor.

CLIFT: They’re not?

PAGE: Oh, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: They got a frontrunner who is way, way, way out in front.

CLIFT: He’s still got a --

BUCHANAN: And that is Donald Trump.

CLIFT: He’s got a plurality in a crowded field.

MCLAUGHLIN: Did we talk about Biden?

BUCHANAN: No, we’re talking about Donald Trump.

MCLAUGHLIN: Did we talk about Biden?

BUCHANAN: We talked about Biden. The argument for Biden was, I think, pretty much removed by that debate when Hillary Clinton looked like she’s in command, she could be president of the United States --

MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, she shut down Biden.

CLIFT: No.

BUCHANAN: She removed his argument.

ROGAN: She removed the premise for his entry into the race.

MCLAUGHLIN: Assuming Biden wanted to run, or was moving in that direction.

CLIFT: Yes.

BUCHANAN: The reason why Biden would want to run is, Hillary can’t do it. She’s got the emails. She can’t make it. I’ve got to come in and save the party. That argument is gone.

ROGAN: But at the same time --

CLIFT: Yes, except Biden still hasn’t made his --

MCLAUGHLIN: The argument’s gone, and that was one of the underpinnings of Biden’s --

BUCHANAN: That was THE underpinning.

ROGAN: John, let me get in here a sec. I think one of the things, though, for the Republicans is that as much as Hillary Clinton had a competent moment there, you see Martin O’Malley, you see Bernie Sanders on the side becoming more peripheral. Hillary Clinton will have vulnerabilities on changing her position on trade, moving far to the left on guns. So, we’ll have to see what happens.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: We’ve got over a year to go.

CLIFT: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: I’m sorry for interrupting. We’ve got over it a year to go before we cast the ballot.

CLIFT: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: You think you can sustain --

CLIFT: I think Hillary Clinton --

MCLAUGHLIN: -- this imagery that she’s got.

CLIFT: I don’t think it’s just imagery. This is a very --

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, part of it is imagery. She’s transformed her image --

CLIFT: This is a very competent woman who has --

MCLAUGHLIN: -- and apparently her total outlook.

CLIFT: This is a very competent woman who has fought a lot of battles for a lot of years and she’s gotten up and she said at one point in the debate the other night, I’m still standing.

I think she, more than anyone else in the field, is the likely next president. And it’s going to look less like a coronation and more like a burning at the stake. But I think she survives.

BUCHANAN: She’s running behind all the Republican candidates, Eleanor, in the head-to-heads right now.

PAGE: That can change.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, tell Hillary to do this. She should use the word "evolve." As one sees more of the process and the conditions and the circumstances. Your views evolve.

CLIFT: That’s right.

MCLAUGHLIN: You understand?

CLIFT: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: That would be a winner for her.

Issue Two: A Time for Socialism?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we're not going to separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have -- we are going to have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on earth.

Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: Did Bernie Sanders have a good night on Tuesday night, Pat?

BUCHANAN: Yes, he did. I think he did. He’s a perfect foil for Hillary.

He’s a left wing, socialist, and he’s making the case out there. He argues it well. The people yell. And what he does is he leaves -- makes it look like Hillary is sitting much more in the center, even though she’s a progressive.

But I think he had a good night. He’s got money in the banks and he’s perfect for her out there. She should take him on the road.

CLIFT: Well, rare in this very noisy political season. He has broken through with his clear message, and he’s broken through in a way that Hillary hasn’t yet. And income inequality, we all know where he stands. He’s really struck a nerve. And the reaching out on the email thing, which was maybe --

BUCHANAN: But if you have to have an opponent, that’s what you want.

CLIFT: It gave Hillary a boost, and it gave himself a boost. It’s still hard I think for a lot of people to see him as the next president. And I don’t know, maybe there’ll be more honeymoon packages in Moscow, now that we know that’s where he went.

ROGAN: I actually tend to think Bernie had a weak night, because on foreign policy, there was a moment where he umming and ahhing his way through talking about Putin. That allowed Hillary Clinton to say to even liberals, look, you know, I have more credibility with this, as the Democratic Party would perceive it.

And I also think he’s let -- the way he dealt with the audience, amazingly, was far less charismatic than we’ve been seeing before. He seemed like a sort of mad professor, shouting at them all the time.

Whereas Hillary, as we said, that energy went up. She seemed she was smiling, she was joking. She had some good ripostes and she kind of made O’Malley, Webb, to some degree, and, of course, Chafee, irrelevant.

PAGE: When you look at the focus groups afterwards and the unscientific call in polls, Bernie won. I mean, that shows energy. It’s not a scientific poll, but it shows a lot of energy out there. And believe me, those of us in the mainstream media got the emails, the phone calls the next day.

What do you mean Bernie didn’t win?

ROGAN: It’s mostly because Republicans were asked that question, did not ever want to say that Hillary won. But, clearly, Hillary won. In terms of what she needed to do, she won.

BUCHANAN: Bernie really did energize his base, and he’s done a tremendous job of doing that.

But the Republicans, I can tell you, they’re on their knees praying that Bernie gets this --

PAGE: Just like Democrats are praying for Trump, but you know --

BUCHANAN: You might hear your prayers answered --

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Well, I’m ready for the Trump administration. I mean, anybody -- I mean, I’m trying to visualize these folks in the White House. And I can see Hillary, I can see a Bush in the White House. But I have a hard time seeing a Trump in the White House.


MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Showdown at the Wynn Hotel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns?

CLINTON: No, not at all. I think that we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence. This has gone on too long and it's time the entire country stood up against the NRA. The majority of our country --

(APPLAUSE)

-- supports background checks, and even the majority of gun owners do.

Senator Sanders did vote five times against the Brady bill.

SANDERS: As a senator from a rural state, what I can tell Secretary Clinton, that all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns, and end this horrible violence that we are seeing.

MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were able to pass this and still respect the hunting traditions of people who live in our rural areas.

SANDERS: Governor --

O'MALLEY: And we did it by leading with principle, not by pandering to the NRA.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): But while Lincoln Chafee shared this pro-gun control consensus, one candidate, Jim Webb, did not.

JIM WEBB (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are people at high levels in this government who have bodyguards 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The average American does not have that, and deserves the right to be able to protect their family.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Who won the gun debate, Pat?

BUCHANAN: Webb had an excellent point there, John. But in the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, a progressive, left-wing party, Hillary Clinton won the dominant play there. Bernie was really on the defensive. But I think for the general election, the National Rifle Association and the Republicans are delighted with that debate.

CLIFT: Well, I think we’ve reached a tipping point on the gun issue, and there are lots of gun groups, gun safety groups that have popped out around the country. And Webb’s point is that somehow the government is going to take away your guns.

All they’re talking about is background checks, so you don’t give guns to people with records, who are mentally unstable, who are domestic abusers and that’s what they’re talking about. And even the majority of gun owners supports that. Majority of NRA members join in doing that --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: I think the Democrats have a big problem in purple states with this. Hillary won there, but when it comes -- when you talk about things like magazine capacity limits, that will be a big issue that will lose a lot of voters to the Democratic Party, as well being able to sue manufacturers –

PAGE: That’s a common-sense reform.

ROGAN: -- as suing manufacturers, because that would destroy the gun industry, and people know that. And Pat mentions Pennsylvania.

PAGE: Who needs a magazine with 18 rounds or more, unless you want to wipe out a bunch of people?

ROGAN: Because your accuracy if you have a home invader is about 20 percent, based on studies. So, you need rounds.

PAGE: Well, yes, this was the problem here, you see, for Bernie Sanders and for Jim Webb. On this issue, they were at the wrong debate. They should have been at a Republican debate, because their -- those positions they had would have gotten applause and maybe standing ovations. Here, they were lucky they didn’t booed. It’s not going to help.

BUCHANAN: Clarence, there’s a reason why you don’t have the reforms that you’re talking about, and that’s the country doesn’t want them and the Congress won’t vote for them, and the Democrats won’t for them.

PAGE: Democrats definitely don’t want them and people’s minds change.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: The reforms are moving state by state, and they’re going to be on the ballot in Maine and Nevada, and they’re going to pay us probably next November. And Bernie Sanders makes some good points, too. He says people have got to sit down and talk.

So, I think, you know, Sanders is not off the reservation on this. He has -- he pointed out he has a D-minus rating from the NRA. So, we have to listen to him too.

MCLAUGHLIN: The Democrats learned to their dismay in the 1990s, gun ban, bans on guns are a losing proposition. They don’t cut crime but they do cost Democrat votes.

PAGE: Nobody has called for bans on guns since the ‘60s. I mean, even Al Gore was just talking about registration. That was enough.

I mean, for Bernie Sanders, that D-minus with the NRA shows you how far out there the NRA is, even farther than most gun owners by a lot of their --

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Most gun owners aren’t members of the NRA.

ROGAN: But you don’t see manufacturer lawsuits are very far out? Because that --

MCLAUGHLIN: The American public --

CLIFT: No other American company enjoys immunity from all lawsuits. Why should the gun industry be different?

ROGAN: Because the way --

MCLAUGHLIN: OK.

ROGAN: Because what you would do, there, you’re holding culpable some -- because, it’s completely different, holding a manufacturer --

CLIFT: It’s not completely different.

ROGAN: That’s like being able to sue someone because a knife at home and cut yourself --

PAGE: That’s not what you call a common-sense gun reform.

MCLAUGHLIN: Americans like --

PAGE: We’re talking about things like background checks and all, which have 80 percent or more support --

CLIFT: And if a knife is manufactured in a faulty way or marketed in a deceiving way, that company would be culpable.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: Americans like their guns?

BUCHANAN: People who vote on guns and go out and vote on them --

CLIFT: Pardon me?

BUCHANAN: -- as a single issue vote for guns.

PAGE: That’s right. That’s right.

ROGAN: Right.

PAGE: But, you know, if Sandy Hook didn’t get people up, I wonder if anything will, but how many Sandy Hooks do we need? Right now, the numbers are going up and I think Eleanor is right, that after a certain point, the public says, enough, we got to sit down and talk about some kind of reform.

ROGAN: We’ll have the debate in the general.

PAGE: Sooner or later.

ROGAN: We’ll have the debate in the general.

PAGE: Yes, yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: Americans love their guns. It’s simple as that. And they believe to the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

PAGE: How many Sandy Hooks do you want, John? How many Auroras do you want? How many -- you know, one state after another, we’re getting these massacres.

BUCHANAN: How are you going to stop them, Clarence?

PAGE: Sorry?

BUCHANAN: How are you going to stop them?

PAGE: Well, you take steps, small steps and you reverse the course we’ve been on since we -- back in the 1990s, the NRA supported universal background checks. Wayne LaPierre sat there, supporting background checks. We need to move from that now. We need to get back.

MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you think the rest of the world has handled this gun debate? They don’t even have gun debate.

PAGE: Canada has --

CLIFT: Canada has as many guns per person, probably as we have and they have fewer gun laws and they are not --

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there you go.

CLIFT: No, I don’t -- they have the appropriate gun laws.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Korea Comes Calling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PARK GEUN-HYE, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT: Today’s summit served as an opportunity to set forth a clear vision and the strategy for the future of the Korea-U.S. alliance. In forging a new Korean Peninsula, a new northeast Asia, and the new world. I’m confident that the Korea-U.S. alliance will continue to involve into a comprehensive, strategic alliance.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with President Obama at the White House on Friday as part of a U.S. visit that included meetings at NASA and the Pentagon. On the agenda were discussions over South Korea’s relations with its difficult neighbor, North Korea, whose tempestuous leader, Kim Jong-un, recently threatened to hold nuclear test explosions and ballistic missiles launches.

But President Park’s real agenda is business, namely South Korea’s flagging export business. Once considered an Asian tiger for its consistent growth, over the past year, South Korea has seen its exports fall by 15 percent overall. Exports account for more than half of South Korea’s economy. Sagging demand in China and continuous stagnation in the European Union have sapped Korean sales.

China’s surprise currency devaluation in August further depressed Korean trade. South Korea’s GDP this year is forecast to fall to 2.7 percent, down from 6 percent just five years ago.

To boost trade, President Park’s entourage includes 166 business leaders, representing global conglomerates like Hyundai and Samsung, to medium-sized businesses. They are united by hopes of selling more imports to the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s the main purpose of President Park’s visit, South Korea’s security or its economy? Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN: It’s combined, though. The South Koreans may be having trouble with trade, but they’re not having trouble with trade with the United States. They’ve almost doubled their trade surplus with us ever since they’ve had the Korean-U.S. trade agreement.

But they do have a real problem with North Korean, and they want those 28,500 American troops, number of them up there right on the DMZ, so there will casualties from day one if there’s any war. They want us there. They want our security.

But, frankly, their trade relationships and their economic relationships are getting thicker and thicker with China than they are with the United States of America. And there’s a fear in the part of the Japanese and the Americans that they’re getting too close to the Chinese.

MCLAUGHLIN: All this fear and loathing about North Korea is excessive.

BUCHANAN: Well, it’s not excessive, in terms -- I mean, that is a very unstable, nasty, ugly regime, unpredictable as well.

MCLAUGHLIN: He is ready to undergo a conversation, the leader?

ROGAN: No, he isn’t. No.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: I’m talking in terms of economics.

BUCHANAN: We’ll send Dennis Rodman back.

CLIFT: I wish that were true, but I don’t know where your sources, because I don’t know that anybody else is looking at him to make any kind of --

BUCHANAN: Mark my words, mark my words.

CLIFT: I hope you’re right.

But the issue of the American troops in Korea has now entered the presidential race, because Donald Trump is campaigning on how we should pull out those troops. And I don’t think that -- that’s not going to happen. South Korea is very dependent on us, and I think we view them as a strong ally in that part of the world.

And the trade relations has no worked out. They haven’t been buying enough American goods. But they now want to get on the trade, the TPP deal, and that’s going to take a while.

ROGAN: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: There’s a slow and steady conversion going on with regards to the North Korean leader?

ROGAN: No, I don think --

MCLAUGHLIN: True or false?

ROGAN: No, look, socialism, communism, it’s an utterly absurd ideology. It’s why I actually find Bernie Sanders more problematic with Trump, because the ideology is horrific.

But here’s the thing --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: Wait, wait, wait, if we’re talking about Kim Jong-un though --

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, we are.

ROGAN: This is such an extreme, authoritarian, as Pat says, brutal regime. He needs to capitalism to some degree in the tinkering edges with the kleptocracy to be able to make some capital, and that’s it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Get off the cliches. Get off the cliches about his regime.

ROGAN: It’s a fact. That’s what they’re doing, because they have no --

MCLAUGHLIN: I saw a piece of analysis recently that he’s not really ready for picking now, but he’s ready for a slow conversion, and he likes what he says when he sees --

BUCHANAN: Keep your guns loaded.

MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Joe Biden, will he run or will he not run?

Pat?

BUCHANAN: No, he’s not running.

CLIFT: Won’t run.

ROGAN: No, I don’t think he will, now.

PAGE: They all say no.

ROGAN: Unless the FBI.

MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no.

Bye-bye!

END